Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Just Like Starting Over: Beginnings, Again

Spring has arrived here, although it's strange to see dirty snow banks around the city when the weather is in the mid-20's C.  We know it's spring because cold and snow has been replaced with wind and dust.  I'm happy to have it-I can walk without having to worry about sliding on the ice (although I do have to be careful not to slip in the sand).

I've been clearing out my house and my fibre room, sorting things to give away and items to pass along to my children.  I scrubbed the house yesterday, windows and doors wide open to welcome the sun and warm breezes.  It was lovely.

It's the perfect time for new beginnings and beginnings, revisited.  As we move along life's paths, we forget how those roads looked to us when we first set out; sometimes, it's good to retrace our steps and remind ourselves of early ventures, especially when we're teaching others.

I am teaching Relax and Renew for Cancer this week. Last week, I challenged the class a little in our poses and for some people, it was a bit too much.  It occurred to me that we have had many newcomers in the classes recently and that they have not practised some of the exercises that Sarah taught people when she began these classes. Tomorrow my plan is to go back to basics, to practice when our bodies and minds are stressed from coping with change.

How do you learn to move your shoulder blades when your shoulder blades don't budge one centimetre or you've lost your sense of where those shoulders are at all?  How do you work your way into Child's Pose/Balasana (never mind Downward Dog/Ahdo Mukha Svanasana) when your nerves are damaged and your hands hurt or you can't feel your fingers? You start again, with the mind of a child, curious, explorative, approaching the problems with baby steps.  You start where you are Now, even if that Now has us feeling as if we're tied in knots.

Illustration from Google Images/Original Image Found at Daily Gumboot, Awkward Yoga Community

Sometimes, the knots are literal, twisted in the fibres we spin, especially as beginners. Learning to make string is no longer a required skill; North Americans can live their lives never seeing or thinking about how the yarns which make our clothing are formed.  It's not surprising that many people who are interested in spinning have no clue as to how to start.

Next month, I'll be heading out to Olds Fibre Week to teach yoga and meditation and to lure a fresh batch of spinners into the wonderful world of twisting fibres into string. There will be new beginnings for the students and new starts for me, too.  I think back to when I first discovered how to draft and twist wool into some semblance of yarn, how difficult it was for me to make spindle and wheel behave, even for a minute, of how frustrating it was to train my mind and muscles to coordinate a handful of fluff and a stick with a disc attached to it.  I forget just how little I knew and then I remember.

Every time I teach a beginners' class, in spinning or knitting or weaving, I retrace my steps, reminding myself of what it's like to know Nothing about a subject, but wanting to know as much as possible.  The journey to knowledge is maddening, sometimes downright painful, but thrilling and exhilarating, often all at once.  Remembering, returning to Child's Mind is the primary reason why I so enjoy teaching newcomers and why, once in a while, it's a good idea to revisit our poses, our first yarns, that holey piece of first knitting.


(Happy Mother's Day to all my friends, siblings and my Mom!)  


  1. As a person surviving with nerve damage, I totally get the idea of not knowing where different body parts are and feeling a little overwhelmed when I first tried yoga. But, I loved the peace it gave me and the mindfulness as I continued to attend my course. It is a slow but fulfilling activity for me. :)

    1. It's challenging to bring attention to areas of suffering or numbness, but we did it. Gentle stimulation in areas where nerves are damaged can help our brain retrain neural pathways. The slow, focused practice helps to relieve anxiety--we could feel the energy in the room shift as we moved through our poses.